Company chief skims $1.7 million to buy himself the good life, authorities charge

The former head of a Carlstadt company blatantly cooked the books to pocket $1.7 million of his struggling employers’ money, authorities charged today. Klaus Brueggemeier used company credit cards for clothing and accessories from Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, refurnished his Closter home, ate at exclusive restaurants and bought both a Mercedes Benz and a BMW, authorities said. And that’s just for starters.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot


Altogether, the German native charged $900,000 worth of merchandize to the high-end porcelain and glass company Rosenthal USA, LTD, authorities allege.

“He also double-billed the company for $56,000 by resubmitting the amount on his monthly expense report even though the expenses were already paid for with a corporate credit card,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. 

Brueggemeier, 43, who was both Chief Operating Office and Chief Financial Officer for Rosenthal, also “fabricated e-mails to make it appear as though corporate officers from Germany and the United States authorized him to receive bonuses in excess of $100,000.00,” Molinelli said. “In reality, the bonuses were never authorized.”

He also issued himself multiple payroll checks for the same pay period, tacking $333,000.00 onto his $130,000-a-year salary, the prosecutor said. What’s more, he cashed checks payable to himself or to cash, and wired nearly a half million dollars into his private account, Molinelli said.

“He violated his high level position of trust and committed fraudulent acts during a period of time when Rosenthal USA was facing the effects of a downturn in the economy and was forced to lay off employees and re-structure its business operations,” Molinelli said. 

It was that downtown that turned up Brueggemeier’s alleged activities.

Following a restructuring, Rosenthal this year began reviewing all facets of its operation, the prosecutor said. The new management team quickly found the overcompensation, double billings, extravagant business expenses, and unauthorized disbursements.

Management hired an independent auditor to review all of the files. The auditor determined that Brueggemeier manipulated the books from May 22, 2006 through March 20, 2009, Molinelli said

Also found was evidence of fictitious sales invoices worth $2.6 million, which the prosecutor said was done to inflate the company’s accounts receivables.

“In some instances,” the prosecutor said, “he secretly shipped and hid the inventory, corresponding to the invoices, in an off-site warehouse.”

Brueggemeier is being held on $200,000 cash bail at the Bergen County Jail, charged with theft, computer theft, and issuing a false financial statement.

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